Himachal Pradesh Horticulture Minister Jagat Singh Negi has ordered a probe to ascertain the authenticity of a video purporting to show an apple grower in the Rohru area of Shimla district throwing his produce into a stream.
”The video is 20 days old and the claim that the apple rotted due to road closures is wrong and misleading as an alternate route was opened,” he told PTI on Monday. Negi, who suspects BJP leaders were behind the video being circulated, said the subdivisional magistrate has been asked to look into the matter.
In a purported video circulating on social media, a pickup truck can be seen parked on the roadside in Rohru town while a farmer dumps several crates of apples in a stream.
Daulat Ram, the up-pradhan of Varal village, wrote to the tehsildar claiming that the Blasan-Chanri-Padsari Road linking the village to the main road was closed since July 9 after heavy rain caused landslides.
About 68 crates of apples were thrown in a stream by three farmers, he said in the letter.
According to preliminary investigations, the grower stated that he did not make the video, the minister said.
Negi said the grower threw away the apples damaged in the heavy rain but the video was made by some other people who posted it on social media.
A shocking video from Rohru. Apple growers seen pouring their apples into the drain. The growers allege that due to the closure of the road for the last 20 days, they are unable to take their apples to the mandis. #wisehimachal #rohru #apple #appleseason #himachalpradesh pic.twitter.com/UNQLbTWRgX
— Wise Himachal (@WiseHimachal) July 30, 2023
The video became viral on Saturday, inviting the ire of opposition leaders and social media users and forcing the authorities to reopen the road on Sunday.
Chetan Bragta, a BJP spokesperson, told PTI that several link roads in the state’s apple belt are closed. The transportation of apples will become a major issue in the coming days. Government agencies earlier set up collection centres by July 15 but no such facility has been made available this time. The absence of collection centres and road blockages have made the lives of apple growers miserable, Bragta added.
Officials said more than 400 roads, including about 240 in the Shimla Zone that comprises the Shimla, Solan and Sirmaur districts, are closed for vehicular traffic.